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by Erica Spindler
St. Martin's Press, January 2020
315 pages
ISBN: 1250083672

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In THE LOOK-ALIKE by Erica Spindler, Sienna Scott is looking to return home after years away in London. When walking back to her dorm late one-night, Sienna stumbles over the body of her recently murdered classmate. The murder is never solved.

Ten years later and after moving far away from the case, Sienna is back to help look after her mother. Mrs. Scott has been in and out of treatment facilities and hospitals for her paranoid personality disorder. Since Sienna's birth, she's been convinced someone is out to get her and her daughter. She's even convinced that the murderer was after Sienna.

As Sienna settles in, she begins receiving anonymous phone calls, and starts to see a white van always driving slowly past her house. Soon, she can't stop the thoughts of that night she found her murdered friend from coming back, and the fear that her mother was right.

Erica Spindler has glorious way with words. THE LOOK-ALIKE has detailed descriptions, realistic characters and plot, and the suspense and thrillers keep popping up and surprising you. The whodunit comes out of nowhere, but then you'll hit yourself on the head for not realizing it soon. The mystery of the novel comes back in shocking ways. Little details that the characters push aside are more important than you think, and the obvious becomes a mystery as those little details come together.

The characters are all wonderfully written in a way that no two are the same. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, but there are never too many at once, and they're all easy to remember. The relationship dynamics between the characters are outstanding. You can feel the sibling love between Sienna and her brother Bradley, and their fights feel real in a way that made me acknowledge what I would do if my siblings and I were in their positions.

My favorite aspect of the story is that everything has a place. Every single plot or subplot (and there are several) are a perfect fit for the narrative. Brad's personal issues are treated as just as important as Sienna's, Sienna and her wanting to buy a local restaurant has clear and concise narrative just like the flashbacks to the past. It is a delight to read how everything has a place in the novel and isn't just filler.

THE LOOK-ALIKE is wholly successful a thriller. Beyond simply being a page turner or keeping you on the edge of your seat, it will convey you into its crisp and clear world, where you may discover its secrets as if you were Sienna Scott herself.

Keshena Hanson recently earned a degree in English from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and was published in the University's Sheepshead Review. Her love for mystery started with Blue's Clues, and now she reads any mystery she can get her hands on.

Reviewed by Keshena Hanson, January 2020

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